Democrats are under siege — not only at the national level but here at the local level in Baltimore County. You need only turn on the television to see the unending attacks from the radical right or answer your door to find tea party foot soldiers. They are asking us to turn our backs on the progress we embraced as Democrats when we retook Congress and the Maryland governor's office in 2006 and the presidency in 2008.
For the first time in more than 20 years, Baltimore County saw a contested Democratic primary race for county executive. Democratic voters were presented with two strong candidates, each with long resumes of distinguished public service. Voters ultimately selected Kevin Kamenetz over Joe Bartenfelder to represent the Democratic Party for our county's top office this November.
In the weeks since the primary election, Democrats up and down the ballot and all around Baltimore County, including supporters of Councilman Bartenfelder, have embraced Councilman Kamenetz's candidacy. Once the voters had spoken it was time to come together for the strength of the local Democratic Party. We are one Democratic Party, and only if we stand together proudly will we move forward and succeed in the general election!
However, the rumor mills have abounded with talk of a possible Bartenfelder endorsement of Ken Holt, a former state delegate and the Republican nominee for county executive. Councilman Bartenfelder has done nothing to dispel these rumors; rather he has openly encouraged them. This past Sunday, he invited Mr. Holt to attend a thank-you reception for his campaign volunteers at which he stopped just short of officially endorsing the Republican.
This isn't the first time that Councilman Bartenfelder, a registered Democrat, has courted the Republican Party. In 2004, it was rumored that Councilman Bartenfelder engaged in conversations with now former Gov. Bob Ehrlich about switching parties to run for county executive in 2006 against Jim Smith. At the time, even Chris Cavey, Baltimore County's Republican Party chairman, noted that "Joe Bartenfelder would make a wonderful Republican. I think he's really a Republican — a Republican in Democrat's clothing."
Losing hurts. I should know. I ran and lost a primary for one of the open County Council seats this year. However, good Democrats, even those not chosen by the voters at the primary election ballot box, should do what they can to help their party. This includes Councilman Bartenfelder. Why? Because nobody likes a sore loser. And, because being a Democrat means fighting for what is right and not letting hurt feelings get in the way of doing what is best for the Democratic Party, and more importantly, what is best for Baltimore County.
With regard to the general election, this is not the time for on-the-job training. We cannot discount Delegate Holt's business experience and one term in the legislature; however, Mr. Kamenetz surely has a leg up on understanding the issues affecting Baltimore County and has a clear familiarity with how Baltimore County government operates. Councilman Bartenfelder should recognize this fact.
Councilman Bartenfelder needs to do what is in the best interest of Baltimore County and our Democratic Party by endorsing and supporting Kevin Kamenetz for Baltimore County Executive and encouraging his supporters to do likewise.
Brian S. Bailey, HalethorpeThe writer is the immediate past chairman of the Baltimore County Democratic Party.